As I sit here in my quiet house, the Wonder Dog asleep on the top of my recliner and the birds chirping in my garden, thousands (some say, millions) of Shia Muslims are walking, walking, walking on a pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq. They do it to honour Imam Husayn Ibn Ali who, in the 7th century, was killed while taking a stand against tyranny and oppression.
Some of the pilgrims have walked for over a fortnight. They have walked through a couple of nations or more. (I have my groceries delivered because I have trouble walking around a supermarket!) They walk, knowing that they will be attacked by ISIS. In fact, this year, over 60 pilgrims have already been killed and ISIS threaten to keep attacking them, so there will be more.
They walk, knowing their lives are at risk. They are frightened, they are ignored by the rest of the world, they are simple, ordinary people, taking a stand for what they believe is right.
I’m in awe.
ISIS have killed thousands of Shia Muslims. They don’t just kill Christians and Jews. They kill anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their form of Islam. It reminds me of the days when Catholics and Protestants took turns oppressing and killing each other. Thankfully, those times ceased several centuries ago. Islam has yet to catch up to the idea that two ideologies, that have the same foundation but have gone slightly different routes since inception, could actually get along.
You know, it is possible to think and believe differently to someone else and still be friends. It’s possible to peacefully co-exist in spite of differing political views. All we have to do is choose to be patient and kind, and focus on the things we have in common. Oh, and one other thing: don’t be so obsessed with having power and being in control. It’s do-able. One person at a time.
Meanwhile, I pray for the safety of those pilgrims, bravely walking into ISIS territory, to celebrate a man who died for peace, kindness and justice.